BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Dutchman Mike Teunissen clung on to the yellow jersey for another day as his Jumbo-Visma team powered to victory in the Tour de France’s second stage on Sunday — a 27.6-km team time trial around the streets of Brussels.
It had looked as though first team out Team Ineos, with defending Tour champion Geraint Thomas leading them home, had put down an ominous marker as the next 21 teams could not match them. But Jumbo-Visma, the last to start, obliterated them.
With the motivation of keeping Teunissen, the first Dutchman to don the yellow jersey since 1989, in the lead, the eight Jumbo-Visma riders, almost matching him in the team’s yellow-and-black kit, flew around the capital like a swarm of wasps, beating the British outfit by 20 seconds.
Three of their riders were dropped but Teunissen, Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett, Wout van Aert and Tony Martin roared to the finish next to the city’s iconic Atomium landmark in 28 minutes 58 seconds.
They averaged an astonishing 57.2kph, a fraction lower than the Tour de France TT record set in 2013.
“Yesterday it was a dream, and it’s the case today again,” said the 26-year-old Teunissen, who won Saturday’s bunch sprint after the team’s main man Dylan Groenewegen crashed.
“We went hard from the start. Everybody kept their pace. We heard we were the fastest (at the splits). It gave us a lot of morale. We were flying.”
While it was hard for Ineos to lose out at the death, it was still a productive day for Thomas and co-leader Egan Bernal, who put time between themselves and some of their GC rivals.
Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R-Mondiale) lost 59 seconds on the Ineos duo although he will feel he can claw that damage back when the road goes up, but Australian Richie Porte’s Trek-Segafredo finished 58 seconds slower.
Team time trials are often about limiting losses of the GC contenders and Jakob Fuglsang, who suffered a bad crash on Saturday, lost only 21 seconds on Thomas and Bernal as his Astana team did him proud.
Former Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain) lost only 16 seconds while French hope Thibaut Pinot will feel relieved after his Groupama FDJ team lost 12 seconds to Ineos.
Thomas, who suffered a scare in a first-day crash, said it had been a positive day, especially as the team were the first down the ramp in the Palais Royal — a legacy of being bottom of the team standings after an incident-packed day one.
“It was quite good going off first as your judgement on how the ride went isn’t skewed by the result,” he said.
“Looking at GC, it’s a good performance, but obviously we wanted to win. I think 20 seconds (to Jumbo-Visma) is a big enough gap to know a few mistakes didn’t cost us.”
After two days in Belgium the race moves into France on Monday with a 215-km trek from Binche to Epernay.
Teunissen leads by 10 seconds from four of his team mates and is 30 seconds ahead of Ineos’s Gianni Moscon, Thomas, Bernal and Dylan van Baarle and says he is getting quite used to being in the coveted yellow jersey.
“Today was only half an hour so I was hoping to keep it on for a longer day,” he said. “I think I’ve showed a good level the last couple of days, so we’ll make a nice plan tomorrow.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon